Voters approve tax incentive program

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BEACON FALLS — The town has a new incentive to help attract businesses.

On Monday, voters approved a tax incentive ordinance at a town meeting. About 15 people attended the meeting, with only one person voting against the ordinance.

“It is a scalable plan that allows for greater impact to a business, whether it is a business that already exists in town or it is a new business that moved into town,” First Selectman Christopher Bielik said. “It is all based on the amount of value being brought into the town.”

The ordinance offers tax incentives for businesses that invest $150,000 or more in a new commercial building or improvements to an existing commercial building. There are three categories for the incentives based on how much money a business invested.

Companies that spend $150,000 to $299,999 would receive an abatement for three years, starting at 50 percent of the company’s taxes in the first year and working down to 10 percent in the third year.

Companies that invest $300,000 to $2,499,999 would receive a four-year plan that abates 50 percent of the taxes in the first year and works down to 20 percent in the fourth year.

Companies that spend $2.5 million or more will receive tax abatements for five years, starting at 50 percent in the first year and dropping to 10 percent in the fifth year.

Bielik said the ordinance is intended to make the town more desirable for businesses.

“Everybody in the state is competing for economic development. We want to try to attract businesses into town,” Bielik said.

Bielik said officials looked at what could make the town stand out.

“We wanted to look and see if there were other incentives that would be available that would make us more competitive than some of the other towns in the area,” Bielik said.

Although the town would give eligible companies a tax break at first, it expects to recoup that money over time, Bielik said.

“The bottom line on it is, although we are incentivizing the initial construction of these things, the long-term benefit of getting something built in town has a very long tail. It makes us economically viable for us over the long-term, which is why incentivizing it at the front is a good idea,” Bielik said.

Bielik said the town currently receives nearly 75 percent of its property tax from residents. This ordinance is hoping to change that, Bielik said.

“The town of Beacon Falls could use, just like any other municipality, an influx of new commercial revenue. Right now the scales are tipped disproportionately. Property taxes in town are paid by residences,” Bielik said. “In order for us to continue growing, we need to balance that out a little bit better.”

Board of Finance Vice Chairman Joe Rodorigo said the ordinance will go into effect on April 9, 14 days after Monday’s approval. He said the town will begin shopping the tax incentive around to businesses before April 9.